Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in North America. Heart disease refers to many conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, heart attack, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and more.
Lifestyle Habits & Heart Disease
While there are some heart disease risk factors you can’t control, there are some you can, including diet and lifestyle. Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through your lifestyle habits. Eating a well-balanced diet can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and help you lose weight. A diet low in saturated fat and high in fibre and plant food can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by:
• Improving your cholesterol and blood pressure levels
• Controlling your blood sugar
• Helping you maintain a healthy body weight
If you have congestive heart failure, fluid retention is one of the biggest issues you face. You should aim to eat less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium daily - the average North American diet has about four to five thousand milligrams. Just as a diabetic would test their blood sugars every day to see how much insulin they need to take, a person with heart failure should be doing a daily weight check to monitor for fluid retention. Weigh yourself before breakfast and consult with your healthcare provider if you gain five pounds in a week or four pounds in two or three days.
Here are some ways to ensure you’re eating a heart-healthy diet:
• Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.
• Avoid highly-processed foods such as fast food, deli meats and hot dogs. During processing vitamins, fibre and minerals are often removed while sugar or salt is added.
• Incorporate more whole grain foods into your diet, such as brown rice, quinoa and whole grain bread. They’re rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein.
• Look for foods that contain unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat. Lower your trans fatty acid intake by avoiding foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, shortening and margarine.
• Make sure you’re getting enough protein to maintain healthy bones and muscles. Look for beans, fish, tofu and lean meat.
• Stop drinking empty calories, which are found in fruit juices, energy drinks and soft drinks. They offer no nutritional value and can lead to weight gain. Choose water more often.
There are so many steps you can take towards a healthier heart, and diet is a big one. While it may seem daunting to change your eating habits, your heart will thank you!
Talk to your healthcare provider if you'd like more information on nutrition.
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Print this Action Plan and check off items that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider
TEST Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through your lifestyle habits.
A diet low in saturated fat and high in fibre and plant food can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by improving your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, controlling your blood sugar and helping you maintain a healthy body weight.
Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.
Whole grain foods are rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein.
Incorporate more whole grain foods into your diet, such as brown rice, quinoa and whole grain bread. They’re rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein.
Adhering to your medications, prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes (such as dietary changes, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption, etc.) is essential to improving health outcomes successfully. Compliance to any prescribed treatment is the number one thing you can do to ensure positive changes and optimal treatment outcomes.
To prevent obesity and maintain a healthy body weight, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. Preventing obesity is important in order to reduce the risks associated with obesity such as Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and Cardiac Disease.